Summary: Examines how Christians and Christian leaders are to respond to difficulties.
THE STRUGGLES THE DEVIL GIVES US
The Devil had tried uncooperative leaders, and the work flourished. He tried scorn & ridicule, & the work flourished. He tried threats. The people grabbed their weapons & continued to work.
My friends, the Devil never gives up. If 1 thing will not stop the Lord’s work, if 1 approach won’t stop God’s people, then he’ll try something else.
Remember the New Testament? People ridiculed the church. The people continued. Religious leaders had people imprisoned, the work continued. Stephen was killed. The Christians scattered & the work continued. They sent Saul to round them up, and God converted him. The people got upset about the way the widows were being treated. Deacons were ordained. Annanias & Sapharia. God killed them. The Devil never stops. There will always be problems and difficulties.
Of all the trials & difficulties the Devil sends, however, the worst are those that come from within the Body itself.
“The worst threats the church has ever encountered have come more from within than without. External pressures are like water on a grease fire– causing the church to intensify and spread. Internal strife and bickering are like AIDS– sapping the strength and vitality from the Body.” Russell Brownworth
We see that in this passage. The people never stopped. They never quit, until a problem arose within the family.
1. Merchants & Laborers – 5:2 They have large families. In rebuilding the walls, they have sustained themselves. Now, w/o an income they are no longer able to support those who are dependant on them. Their resources have been used up.
2. Farmers – 5:3 It was not uncommon for these people to expect a bumper crop, only to have their crops stolen by robbers who raided their land. Borrowed money on their crops. If their crops failed, they lost their property, etc. Famine.
Loan sharks would take their property. Against God’s law. Deut. 23:19-20, 24:10-13. People could sell themselves or their daughters, but not their sons. All would go free at the end of 7 years. Lev. 25:39-41,54.
3. Group having trouble with their taxes.
A godly leader’s response.
I. HE GOT ANGRY –V6
Nothing wrong with anger. There are things that should make you angry. The things that make God angry, should make us angry.
He didn’t get mad about his reputation. He didn’t get upset about how he was being treated. He got upset about how God’s people were being hurt.
II. HE GOT ALONE – v7
He consulted with himself. He gave himself time to work through the situation. He gave himself time to check things out with God.
He didn’t go gossip about the situation. …
III. HE CONFRONTED THE OFFENDERS – vv7-9
1. He showed them what they were doing was wrong.
2. He showed them what they were doing was a wrong against God.
3. He showed them what they were doing was hurting others – v9
They were destroying their testimony among the heathen.
4. He gave them a time – v11
“This very day.” It is never right to put off correcting a sin you are aware of.
Tithing – “I’ll work up to 10%”. Fine. You keep sinning till you get there.
IV. THE OUTCOME – v13
The people praise the Lord.
- v12 Purity
- v13 Prayer
- v14 Power
- v16 Praise
You don’t find the power & praise without the purity & prayer.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools